Simply, the best way to avoid tampon related health risks is to discontinue use of tampons altogether. However the convenience, comfort and ease of tampons is not an easy thing to give up. So, if you still want to use tampons despite the associated dangers, use 100% all cotton non-applicator tampons that are sterilized and whitened by hydrogen peroxide, rather than chlorine. All cotton tampons do not amplify production of TSST-1, nor do they contain super absorbent fibers. Hydrogen Peroxide is a natural bleaching and sterilizing agent, and does not contain or produce dioxins.
Make sure that you wash your hands and fingernails well before inserting a tampon, and never leave tampons in overnight or between menstrual periods. Change tampons at least every four to six hours. Alternate tampon use with menstrual pads, and use the lowest absorbency tampon necessary to absorb your menstrual flow.
All-cotton tampons are readily available from health-food stores and supermarkets.
For more information on cotton tampons, contact the following:
This is the absolute best cotton tampon available on the market - made from organic cotton only. It is available from most health food stores.
Some other cotton tampons are available from:
Terra Femme and Natracare, LLC
Unfortunately, additional studies by Dr. Philip Tierno of NYU have indicated that both of these tampons have been known to contain a cotton-rayon blend on occasion, which renders them no better than most major brand tampons available. This is due to the fact that both of these tampon brands are manufactured in the same Scandinavian factory, which does supplement their cotton supplies with rayon when running low.
Reusable Menstrual Pads
There is absolutely no need for the use of disposable menstrual pads, and I doubt that there ever really was a need, especially with the widespread manufacturing of reusable cotton pads. Most cotton menstrual pads are not bleached with chlorine, and thus exposure to dioxins is no longer an issue, nor do they contribute to the waste rapidly filling landfills. I use Gladrags, and love them no uncomfortable chafing or irritation.
For more information on these products, you can contact:
Menstrual cups that catch and hold menstrual blood are also available. They work much like cervical caps and diaphragms.
The Keeper menstrual cup is reusable and lasts for ten years. This is not only ecological, but economical. With the keeper however, due to the fact it is made from a porous material (natural rubber gum) and will absorb normal vaginal secretions as well as catch the blood, there is a risk of contracting toxic shock syndrome.
For more information about the Keeper, contact:
The INSTEAD menstrual cup is similar, but disposable and can only be used once. It is not made of a porous material, and hence does not have the associated TSS risk. Unfortunately when I tried these they were uncomfortable, difficult to insert and kept falling out. I thought maybe I was doing it wrong but apparently that was not the case as they are now being removed from the market.
For information about INSTEAD, contact:
I swear by these. Used in a similar fashion to the tampon, the sponge is inserted into your vagina where it absorbs your menstrual blood. It is simply rinsed with water and reinserted throughout the duration of your flow. It feels like the inside of your vagina, it does not dry it out, and it is never painful. You feel more in touch with your body and you get to see how beautiful and rich your menstrual blood really is. Best of all you can comfortably have sex while wearing it, not that getting blood all over the bed is bad or anything :). This is supposed to be available at most health food stores but they can be hard to find. One alternative is buying them from art supply stores, cutting them into suitable sizes and boiling them before use, which is not a big deal because you should boil them before each period anyway.
Jade and Pearl also sell them.